Showing posts with label Collaborative post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Collaborative post. Show all posts

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Family Friendly Travel in Spain

Blue Monday has inspired me to think about our travel plans for the year and there are so many places I would love to visit with the children.  Having four aged six and under means we are most likely to stay in Europe and we need to choose places that have activities to suit all our small ones.  We visited Barcelona when Dylan was little and Spain is definitely high on our list of places to consider.

Hotels are pretty tricky now so we will have to check our Spanish mansions and villas to find the perfect accommodation for our family.  We prefer to stay somewhere that allows us to put the children to bed and still have a living space,  somewhere we can be a bit noisier, where they can spread out their toys on the floor and villas seem like the best option.  Spain is full of variety and I have been looking up some of the best places to take small children on holiday.  I would love to hear if you have visited any of these places or if there is anywhere else you think we should add to our list?!



Barcelona 

We visited Barcelona years ago and loved how much there was to do for families.  Park Guell was probably our favourite place and it features Gaudi's mosaic dragon.   There was something for everyone,  the stunning architecture, the beautiful colours and textures and the history fascinated us, whilst the fun grottos, the picnic area and playgrounds are the perfect places to let the children run free.  Barcelona is full of fascinating architecture, green spaces and child friendly restaurants.

Calpe

Beautiful beaches, child friendly restaurants and amazing ice cream.  Situated between Valencia and Benidorm you can make the most of all the city and resorts have to offer including an amazing aquarium in Valencia with a walrus and a beluga whale but you can also enjoy the quieter side. (recommended by Edspire)



Salou

Salou is the perfect place for a family holiday with it's golden beaches and busy strip with restaurants and shops. The Orient Express restaurant comes highly recommended and there is a huge variety of delicious food to suit everyone. Port Aventura is a huge theme situated close by and is easy to get to via coaches. (recommended by mum of 2point5)

Calella de Palafrugell

Such a typically Spanish place, the beaches are beautiful with calm seas and crystal clear waters, there's an ice cream parlour with 40 varieties of ice cream, you can buy stonebaked pizzas to eat on the beach with a blanket (and a bottle of cava for the grown ups) at night time and the staff in all of the restaurants here are so lovely and hug you like old friends. (recommended by North East Family Fun)



Ibiza

Not just for the clubbers, Ibiza is full of child friendly beaches with soft golden sand, lifeguards in the summer, crystal clear water and sun loungers.  Captain Bobcat has written about some of the best child friendly beaches on the island

Menorca

As well as the beaches that surround the island, Menorca boasts caves that are a little explorers dream, seas so clear that young swimmers can go snorkelling and plenty of waterparks for the big and little kids in the family.  Menorca is fantastically family friendly. ( Recommended by Truly Madly Kids)

Benalmadena

With a theme park, crazy golf, sealife centre, parks and a zoo this is a great destination for families that like to keep busy.  Situated on the Costa Del Sol and close to Malaga and Marbella, you can even take a cable car to the top of Mount Calamorro to take in breathtaking panoramic views of the Meditteranean. (recommended by Five Little Doves)


photo credit - BabyFoote

There are so many options to consider from beautiful beaches to pretty cities and the wonderful islands that offer quiet retreats.  I loved the Spanish attitude on our city break there, how even the teenagers would smile at my one year old, how it was never frowned upon to have your toddler in a restaurant and everyone would help us when we needed it.  Spain is such a great place to visit as a family and we will definitely be considering it for our summer holiday.

Where is your favourite Spanish destination?


This post is in collaboration with Luxury Retreats
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Friday, 15 December 2017

Bathroom Hacks with Aldi Mamia

This last week has taught me just how far my multitasking skills have come.  Two different school plays, two lots of money for two different parties, non uniform days, school Christmas dinner, Christmas cards, after school play dates, costumes for the school play and of course two other small people vying for my attention whilst I try and work it all out.  This is the only year I have just one school to deal with too as Dylan will be off to junior school next September and everything will get even more complicated.

There is multitasking with the little two as well, trying to balance their love of being outdoors with their hatred of wearing warm clothing.  Then there are doctors appointments, naptime, cooking with one child who doesn't like to be put down and trying to stay sane throughout it all.

I don't think people really understand multitasking until they become parents.

Aldi sent us some of their cotton wool pads and they have been one of those items that seems to have so many uses.  As well as cleaning a little bottom during a nasty bout of teething, I have also used them to clean Cora's face with a little bit of coconut oil on as she is going through a very snotty phase.  I use them again with some coconut oil to take off my eye make up and also with nail varnish remover for my nails.  The craft loving six year old thinks they look perfect for making snowman pictures too!


It isn't just the cotton wool pads that are great for multitasking mums and dads, the Mamia baby shampoo as well as cleaning little heads rather well is also brilliant for cleaning make up brushes.  I have to admit that before children I was useless at remembering to clean them.  Now I find it easy to sit and clean my brushes whilst the little ones are splashing about in the bath and it keeps them feeling super soft! Bathing four means I spend a lot of time in the bathroom on bath nights so I also mix some Mamia baby shampoo with a bit of baking soda to clean and polish all the taps and metal surfaces as well as inside the shower! The children are happy and the bathroom looks and smells better at the end!


If you want to see more ways to use your baby buys for everyday purposes check out This Mama Life, Attachment Mummy and Boo, Roo and Tigger Too.


This post is sponsored by Aldi
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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Potty Training with Huggies Pull-Ups

I have potty trained two children before, but the thought of starting with Finn still makes me nervous. According to Huggies 8 Signs of Readiness, he is showing signs that he is ready to start. He tells us when he has a dirty nappy, asks for a change and seems to be holding his wees. He is also interested in the potty - he watches his brothers using the toilet and wants to copy them.





In all honesty, I think the biggest thing holding us back at the moment is me. Our days seem busy, our schedule is full and unlike when the older two were in this phase, we now have school runs and clubs and things that we have to be on time for. We are working with HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® this time though and they have sent me everything I need to get started.





Finn is now wearing HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® instead of nappies and he is much happier with the independence. Thanks to the ‘I do’ feature, the super stretchy sides means he can pull his pants up and down himself.





To help get Finn ready for this new stage, we have been learning about wet and dry - this has probably been his favourite part of it all as he loves water play! Using sand, water and his little figures, I have been talking with him about the differences between the two sensations to help him understand wet from dry. HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® also feature a wetness indicator. When the Pull-Up is wet, the steering wheel image fades, visually signalling when your LO has had an accident. This forms part of the ‘I see’ feature which further stimulates a feeling of independence. The learning layer briefly mimics the feeling of wetness and enables Finn to ‘I feel’ when he’s had an accident.





I think being consistent day and night might take a little longer. Whilst Archie was dry day and night, there was nearly 2 years for Dylan to master all times of the day. As HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® child psychologist, Dr Heather Wittenberg explains, the nerve pathways between the bladder and the brain must be strong enough to wake your LO from a deep sleep. Therefore, we’ll be taking a more relaxed approach with Finn as accidents during the night are completely normal. HUGGIES® has specifically designed night time Pull-Ups with extra absorbency for overnight protection whilst still maintaining consistency.

So what are the Huggies 6 steps?

1) Check you are both ready by taking a look at the 8 Signs of Potty Training Readiness
2) Say goodbye to nappies and hello to HUGGIES® Pull-Ups®
3) Start practicing and building a routine
4) Learn wet from dry.
5) Be consistent day and night.
6) Keep up the good work!


Do you have any tips to help us on our potty training journey?


To find out more about Huggies Pull-Ups, visit www.pottytraining.co.uk





This post is in collaboration with Huggies Pull-ups

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Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Graco Featherweight review

The Graco featherweight is the latest stroller from this innovative brand and is designed to be lightweight and practical for busy mums who are always on the go.  We have been putting it through its paces  in the car, on public transport and most often on our walks.

For the past two weeks, I have walked Dylan to school for 9am, taken Archie to school at 12:45 and picked Archie up at 3:15 followed by Dylan at 4:15.  On two of those days, Finn has nursery from 12:30 until 3:30, making a total of six different drop offs or pick ups on a Wednesday.  Graco did some research and discovered that new parents spend an average of nearly 8 hours a day on their feet and I think they are definitely right!

Graco featherweight, light weight stroller

In fact they sent me a fitbit to record my daily steps and more often than not I had completed 6,000 by lunchtime with my daily steps usually around 15,000.  After the school runs I find myself walking to the park, chasing small tots around a soft play or walking around the house putting things back in their place, sweeping up mess and collecting washing.

Graco featherweight, light weight stroller


On an average day, parents can carry up to 6kg (easily if you have two in nappies) as well as the inevitable child on the hip or in the sling.  I remember the days of carrying just a small handbag with the essentials in and it feels like a lifetime ago!

Graco featherweight, light weight stroller
The Graco featherlight has been a brilliant stroller to accompany me on my many miles I walk every week.  It weighs less than Dylan did at birth (3.6kg) and can be folded and unfolded one handed.  I have had other buggies that claim this but it always baffled me however this featherweight really is the easiest thing to fold and unfold.  I made a little video to show you quite how simple it is.


The easy fold means for parents like me that are on and off public transport, you can hold your child on one hip and fold the stroller with no problem.  The featherweight still has a generous basket and can lie flat too with the simple release of a clip on the back.  

I did find that as a tall parent the handle was a little short for me and I would love it if Graco could make an extended handle, but I know that this would add to the weight of the stroller.

Graco featherweight, light weight stroller

Life Coach Tanith Carey has been working with Graco on some tips for busy parents which include ditching bulky handbags and going for an easy backpack, wearing comfy shoes so you are always ready to chase a runaway toddler and making friends with your postman and local delivery driver so they know where to leave your parcels!

There were a couple that I hadn't thought of and will now be doing too, like taking a picture on my phone of the inside of my fridge before leaving the house so that I know exactly what we have 
 and getting an app that tells you when the next bus is due!

Graco featherweight, light weight stroller

The Graco Featherweight is a perfect companion for busy parents who are overloaded with children and the 'stuff' that comes with them and don't need a heavy pushchair adding to their daily work out!




Disclosure : Collaborative Post
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Friday, 29 September 2017

Pacca Alpaca

Children that grow up in bi-lingual families tend to find it easier to pick up new languages for the rest of their lives and studies have shown that there is never a ‘too early’ to introduce foreign languages.  It was something I always meant to do with Dylan but didn’t find the time so I have been enjoying learning alongside the children thanks to the Pacca Alpaca You Tube channel.


Pacca Alpaca language learning app

Designed for preschoolers, the Pacca Alpaca channel helps children learn colours, numbers and songs in a variety of languages including Arabic, French and Spanish and the colourful characters capture their imaginations.  I have been watching the videos with Finn and Archie, and Cora can’t help but get involved even though she has never shown any interest in the television when it is on.


The videos aims not only to encourage children to learn a new language, but also to teach them cultural awareness to help raise a more accepting and inclusive future generation.  We love Pacca Alpaca because it is so much more than just a You Tube channel. There are two apps - Travel Playtime and Language Learning, which have come in very useful for entertaining Finn out and about, and a website,  making it a wider experience for preschoolers.  The series is aimed at children from 2-6 years and having three in this age group I love how they all get something different from it.

As Dylan learns more about other beliefs at school and through new friendships he has become naturally more curious about other languages and the Travel Playtime app is perfect for giving him an insight into different cultures.

Pacca Alpaca language learning app

Archie is still settling into school with half days and the videos have been a great way to keep his brain active in the mornings before he starts his afternoon sessions.

Pacca Alpaca language learning app

Finn is still a very young two, but the catchy music and the reinforcement of things he is still learning in his own language is great for him.  The exposure to other languages isn’t yet aiding him to speak them but listening to them and watching them so early will increase his capacity to pick them up as he grows older.

Pacca Alpaca language learning you tube channel

As a mother, I am enjoying learning with my children.  I have been watching the arabic videos with the younger two as it is a language that I wouldn’t know where to start with if I was to learn myself.

Pacca Alpaca language learning app

Designed by a mother and academic, Sarah Faisal Al Saud has a unique insight into how technology can be used for good and we love the loveable alpaca character, the easy to use videos and the opportunity to learn something new.

I have 10 goody bags to giveaway and entry is really simple, just subscribe to the Pacca Alpaca YouTube channel (it’s free!) and leave a comment below with which language you are looking forward to learning!







T&C: UK entrants only.  The 10 prize goodybags consist of a bag, bottle and set of stickers.  The giveaway ends at 11:59pm on Sat 7th October 2017.  To enter you must subscribe to the Pacca Alpaca you tube channel and leave a comment below.

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Pomelody - Music for Toddlers

Finn is my musical child, he was born with rhythm and he just loves to dance.  He dances to pop and heavy metal, to the sound of Daddy's coffee machine and to his sister's heartbeat at the antenatal scans.  At two years old, we haven't started him down any musical paths just yet but new music E-learning program Pomelody could be what we have been looking for.

Professional musicians Anna and Adam have designed the world's first E-learning music platform for infants, toddlers and preschoolers designed to bring fun family-bonding music education to children and parents globally.

pomelody music, toddler music e-learning

They recently launched with a Kickstarter campaign and have smashed their initial $30,000 target within 10 days so they are now aiming for their stretch goal of $55,000 which will develop an institutional version of the platform giving free access to underpriviledged children, such as those in orphanages all over the world.

Adam, Weber founder of Pomelody, said: 

“Music is such a powerful medium to stimulate a child’s imagination. Its benefits stretch way beyond childhood with many reports suggesting that it can boost an individual’s adult IQ by up to 18%, compared to children with no early years music exposure. Whilst this is motivation in itself, it's the sheer joy and bonding between a child and its parents that makes interacting with music so magical. With Pomelody we have a created a unique opportunity for families to bond, to learn, to have fun and to stimulate the next generation. We are very excited to bring this project to market and, fingers crossed, we can achieve our stretch goal and give free access to underprivileged children around the world.”

As a parent I know how much music can be a bonding experience.  We love to throw living room discos in the evenings, dancing around together to our favourite tunes and the children and I have formed countless bands with our collection of toy instruments.  My musical knowledge is very limited and I love the idea of something we can learn together.

Pomelody e-learning music, toddlers learning music.

What do you get as a series backer of Pomelody? (Kickstarter special price $109 instead of $149)


· Collection of 25 songs - composed, recorded and produced with 12 different bands / artists
· 10 Pomelody classes recorded
· One songbook
· 3 animated lectures with music theory for parents
· Animated stories

Do you use music as a way to bond with your children?

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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Back to School with Panasonic.

The transition back from summer holiday freedom to early morning school runs has been tough and it hasn't helped that Archie is still on half days for another week and a half.  The freedom to wake, eat and sleep when we wanted to has gone and now I can guarantee that at 3:15 on the dot two little voices are declaring that they are 'so hungry'.

We have been working with Panasonic and Daniel from The Naked Nutritionist to solve our back to school food problems and he came up with three delicious recipes for us.  Both boys have school lunches and whilst I know that they have to follow certain guidelines, I also don't know what they are eating at school so I want to make sure I get as much fresh and healthy food into them as possible when they are at home.



My children always come out of school hungry so my first question was about after school snacks that will give them the energy to get through the rest of the day without making them too full up for their dinner.  Daniel created a green juice recipe that would help get some vegetables into them and was a great way to get them involved too.  We used a Panasonic MJ-L500 juicer which slowly presses and crushes the food with its stainless steel screw to keep more nutrition in.  The children loved getting involved and feeding the vegetables into the juicer and I love how easy it is to clean afterwards as you can take it apart and pop it in the dishwasher! 

I wanted some ideas for dinner times too as we always resort to the same vegetables which we know they will eat (peas, carrots and sweetcorn). Daniel came up with two brilliant recipes to get the children eating fresh and more variety.  The cauliflower mash is perfect for the days when they are not that hungry as it is lighter than mashed potato and we loved it with cream cheese added as well. The Panasonic MK-F800SXE food processer whizzed through the steamed cauliflower in seconds creating a creamy mash.



The boys ask for a pudding every evening and so Daniel taught me how to make a chocolate and avacado mousse that was sweet and delicious but full of hidden avacado which is such a great food for getting all the right vitamins to keep their brains working well.  The food processor has 33 functions and we have made so many different things with it by swapping the attachments.  (Next up is our own nut butter!).  Along with the classic hiding veg in a pasta sauce, I think hiding avacado in a chocolate pudding works great!

The recipes for all three of these are available on the ideas kitchen website and if you want to see Daniel and I cooking them then check out the facebook live we made on Panasonic's facebook page.

I have no excuse not to serve up something fresh and nutritious to the ravenous school boys at 3:15 each afternoon now!

In collaboration with Panasonic.





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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Staying Healthy This Summer


The summer has begun, and so has the challenge of keeping everyone healthy, happy and occupied for six long weeks.  It is so tempting to make ice cream a daily treat and my boys could spend hours playing minecraft if I let them have their own way.  Push Doctor have written their top tips for keeping minds and bodies active this summer, so I thought I would share some of ours too.

Healthy Eating

  • If your children are anything like mine, they will be asking for snacks pretty much constantly throughout the day! Make up little pots or bags of cut up fruit and veg and store them in the fridge so that they can help themselves to them to make life a little easier.

  • If you have space in the garden or an allotment, try growing food with them.  Many of our friends tell us their children won’t touch a certain food on a plate, but they will happily eat one they have grown themselves.  Look for local pick your own farms too for fresh strawberries, cherries and apples as well as other things.



  • Make flavoured ice cubes out of fresh juice to add to their water to encourage them to drink more.  When it is hotter or they are more active, they need to replenish their fluids more often and this makes it a bit more appealing.

Staying Active

  • If you have a big enough garden, make an obstacle course, or get the children to. Soon they will be climbing, jumping and running with no idea they are actually doing exercise.  Use garden toys and household objects to make different challenges.

  • Make your own scavenger hunt cards on pieces of cardboard you would otherwise recycle.  Right down different colours or objects and send the children out at the beach or park to collect all the items.  You could give them an old digital camera instead to get them to take photos of things they have found.

  • Whilst the weather is warm, make an after dinner stroll part of your routine.  It doesn’t have to be far, but a little walk around the block before bed may help them sleep better too.



Keep Learning

  • See if your local library has a reading challenge on.  Dylan has signed up and is already half way towards his first set of stickers.  All the children love visiting and choosing new books and it encourages them to love reading.

  • Encourage older children to keep a holiday journal where they can write a paragraph each day about what they have done and enjoyed.  It is great for writing practice and is a lovely record for when they start back at school in September

  • Use a rainy day as an excuse to try some science experiments at home.  Vinegar and baking soda volcanos are one of our favourites! Home made playdough is a big hit with the younger children and is great for their fine motor skills and imagination.



There are loads more ideas over on the Push Doctor website.  They also have a fantastic competition to win £400 worth of goodies over on their facebook page!


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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Ears what you need to know

The parks are full of beautiful spring flowers and I can't get enough of the colours when we are out.  With spring comes allergies though and three of us suffer with hayfever at this time of year.  I struggle with itchy eyes and itchy ears and often can't take anthistamines whilst pregnant or breastfeeding.  This year I have some Earex products at hand to try and keep my ears healthy and itch free and I have some tips from Earex Ear Care Expert, Dr Henderson to share on ear health;


1. Try to keep your ears dry 

‘Swimmer’s ear’ - more correctly called otitis externa - is a condition that affects more than 1% of the UK population every year. It is given this nickname because it can be caused by water getting into the ear canal – the tube between the outer ear and the eardrum – and so is more common in swimmers. Other causes include infection and allergic reactions but it can also occur for no obvious reason. Although any one of any age can get it, women appear to suffer slightly more than men. As well as swimming, other factors triggering it include excessive ear cleaning or overuse of ear piece headphones, as can pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema, acne or psoriasis. The general advice is to always avoid getting the affected ear wet, and resist the temptation to use cotton wool buds inside the ear or pushing a towel into them. You may also be prescribed anti-inflammatory or antibiotic eardrops by your doctor 

2. Limit your exposure to loud noise 

Music and machinery can expose us to over the safe noise limit – 85 decibels (dB) for long periods. MP3 players in Europe have a default limit of 85 dB. As a general rule of thumb, if other people can hear your headphone music then it’s too loud! (Remember that the earbuds on MP3 players funnel the sound waves directly into the ear.) Long-term exposure to high volume levels can gradually wear out the tiny hair cells of the inner ear that convert sound into nerve signals that go to the brain. Take breaks if you must listen to music through earbuds, and try out noisereducing headphones. Don’t fall asleep with earbuds in and make sure your devices are set at 60 decibels or lower - the level of normal conversation. 


3. Try to avoid flying when you have a cold 

‘Aeroplane ear’ is the term given to pain in the ears that occurs during take-off and landing and is due to unequal air pressure inside the ear in comparison to the atmosphere outside, due to blockage of the Eustachian tube and can be very painful. Not equalizing pressure in the ears on planes is called barotitis and is usually more of a problem when landing than taking off. Try to chew, yawn or swallow as this helps to equalize pressure when landing and if you have to fly when you have a head cold try taking an oral decongestant before flying. Don't let your child remain asleep during landings, and don’t worry too much if they have mild ear discomfort when landing as this is due to the pressure equalizing. 

4. Use eardrops to dissolve impacted wax 

Ear wax is important for ear health as it helps to protect the lining of the ears. After it is produced, it slowly makes its way to the opening of the ear where it either falls out or is removed when you wash. However, too much wax can sometimes build up, causing mild hearing loss, known as conductive deafness, as sounds can’t pass freely through the ear canal because of a blockage. Olive oil is often recommended, and although it’s not as effective as some other drops it can soften wax prior to the ears being syringed. Earex drops can be very effective here too. There's an old saying – ‘Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear’ and it’s true! You can easily hurt your ear by poking around in them, even with cotton buds as these can push wax deeper in your ear or even irritate the ear canal causing an infection. Never put anything sharp in your ear because it can cause bleeding or serious damage. 


5. Remember that the weather and allergies can affect your ears. 

Millions of people suffer from allergies, often at their peak in spring and autumn. This usually presents as hay fever type symptoms, but household dust and pet dander are also triggers here and allergies can affect your ears as well as your eyes, nose and throat. The most common symptoms affecting ears are itching, fullness, difficulty hearing and earaches. These can often be treated by over-the-counter allergy medicines, such as antihistamines and decongestants but itching can also be eased by using ear drops. An allergic reaction can sometimes lead to a temporary loss of hearing too due to the middle ear becoming inflamed but this usually goes away when the allergy is treated. In colder weather, our ears become vulnerable to the cold because they have no protective fat tissue and so cool down quickly. There is only a thin layer of skin protecting the nerves in the ear canal, and cooler weather (along with wind) may cause discomfort in your ear canal. Covering your ears when you’re outside for longer periods of time will help keep them warm and healthy.


Earex products are suitable for children over 5 years old and adults, and for children between 1 and 5 on medical advice.  We will definitely be using them for Dylan as he has struggled with ear infections in the past.  You can find Earex products in your local supermarket or chemist or direct from Earex.co.uk.

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Mother's Day Gift Guide // South Aylesford Retail Park

Today we visitied South Aylesford retail park to check out some gift ideas for Mother's Day.  I always find it so tricky choosing the perfect gift for my Mum and Mum-in-Law but I managed to come up with 9 great choices (admittedly a couple were more things I would like).  These are my top Mother's Day picks from the retail park . . . 


I love the cute patterns on these water bottles from Halfords, the whole range was really pretty with cool bags and bike seats too.  These would be perfect for summer picnics and I think both Mums would appreciate the spring colours.


They are a classic Mother's Day gift for a reason and Marks and Spencer's food hall had an amazing array of flowers to suit all tastes and budgets.  I don't know many mums that wouldn't appreciate a beautiful bouquet. 


Marks and Spencer's food hall had a great selection of gifts by the front door and this bottle of pink sparkling wine with chocolates caught my eye.


 Homebase had a great alternative to a bunch of flowers with their selection of potted plants.  The colours were stunning and I can really imagine these in my Mum's garden.


We also noticed this sign whilst we were in Homebase (although they were still finishing it off).


This may be a bit out of my budget this year but Finn and I both agreed that Grandma would love this for her garden.  We got a bit carried away admiring the garden furniture (and testing it all for comfiness).


Ok so admittedly this one was more something I would want, a new camera from Currys PC World.  This is a step up from mine with built in wi-fi and would make a tempting Mother's Day gift from me to me. 


These tablet cases were on sale in Currys PC World too and I know that both Mums love their tablets.  My favourite is the map print but I can imagine they would both choose the floral.


I popped into Smyths toy store not expecting to find much for them, but I think that the boys would love to buy a new board game for Grandma.  They love playing Bingo when we go round and I think as they get older this would make a lovely gift - something they can do together.


All this window shopping got a bit much so we stopped for coffee and a sandwich at Costa - Our final gift idea is a voucher for here - who doesn't love an excuse to go out for cake?

All of these items are available from the South Aylesford retail park near Maidstone, Kent.

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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Treehouse Hotels

As the school holidays are approaching we are looking for somewhere new for a break.  I have such a passion for travel and I want to show my children the wonders of this world.  We don't always have to go far - there is so much of the UK I still want to explore, but I want to see new things, have wonderful experiences together and explore.

I have always wanted to stay in a tree house hotel and I think it would be such a unique experience.  This map of the best tree house hotels has some absolutely stunning properties and every single one of them has made it onto my bucket list now.



It is easy to see how Chateaux Dans Les Abres in France makes it onto the list, these castles in the trees are beautifully set in natural meadows and woods and each one has a private hot tub.  The activities on site include a heated infinity pool and panoramic views from the treetop terrace.  There are 5 castles, one of which can sleep up to 6 people so it suitable for families such as mine.


We have always wanted to travel to Thailand as a family and I loved it when I went pre-children.  I hadn't heard of the Bangkok tree house until recently but the eco-friendly property which can only be located on foot or by boat is a haven away from the bustle of the city and the perfect getaway for an environmentally conscious couple or family.


I know that there are a few tree house hotels in the UK now and we are definitely going to be looking into whether we can visit one, as they look like such a fantastic and unique experience.

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

5 Things to Consider when Moving Area.

I am sure most of us have thought about moving area for some reason or other .  Some want to be closer to a city, or more rural, others dream of the beach or the lakes, we have been looking at how much cheaper house prices are in the North of the country and wondering whether it it is worth it.  Here are 5 things to consider before you decide to set down roots somewhere new.

1) House prices.  When you look at what you can afford for your budget there is such a huge variation.  The same amount may get you a one bedroom flat in central London or a six bed detached house in County Durham.  If you have a job that is flexible then knowing what you can get for your money is a big factor.

2) Burglary Rates.  Burglaries make up roughly 7% of all crimes in the UK and are much more prevalent in some areas than others. This map shows how living in a big city can put you more at risk of having your possessions taken and you can find more figures on this Burglary map of England Wales if choosing somewhere with lower crime rates is a priority.


3) What will your support network be like?  If you are leaving friends and family then choosing somewhere where you already know someone may make the move easier.  Having to make a whole new set of friends can be challenging so finding somewhere with a little familiarity could help you decide on where to move.

4) What local ammenities does the area you have chosen have? If you don't drive is there good public transport? What are the local schools and neighbourhoods like? Is there a nice park for children to play in? Visiting the area in advance can help you get a better feel for how your family will fit in and how it will fit with your lifestyle.

5) What kind of jobs are available in the area?  Are you close enough to a big city if you have a corporate job?  If you work in a specialist job then it may be worth researching where the best companies are based to increase your chances of finding the ideal position.

What plays the biggest factor in your decisions of where to live?







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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Budget Holiday Tips for Families

We are a family that loves to travel, but as we have grown, we have had to think more about how to make our holiday's as cost effective as possible.  With four children we don't often fit the standard family requirements and we have had to change the way we travel to reflect this.  Here are some of my top tips for travelling on a budget.

1) Flexibility makes it easier to get a better price so search for flights for the week you want to go away and check if one day is significantly cheaper than the others.  Fridays are usually the most expensive so being able to go midweek can pay off.  Flexibility on location helps too, you may want to go to Spain for example but browsing a site like Spain-Holiday.com and checking out different regions means you can find something to fit every budget.

2) Book each part of the holiday separately to ensure you are getting the best deals.  Check out sites like skyscanner to compare flight prices and book everything direct with the company to avoid paying any additional fees. 


3) It can pay to stay a little further away from where you want to be to save some pennies and also give you more living space for your money.  Choosing to rent a holiday house can be much easier with a larger family too as you have space to settle the children to bed and still have some adult time rather than playing cards by the light of your phones in a dark hotel room (which we have done more than once). Check out the local transport to see how this could work for you.

4) Choose what is important to you.  We often fly with the cheapest budget airline and don't pay for any frills like choosing seats or quick boarding.  We are happy to stay in cheaper accommodation if it means more money for eating out and going on trips.  If you are planning on cooking more then spend a little more choosing the right holiday home with a decent sized kitchen.

5) Travel with friends - if there are a group of you looking for the same kind of holiday then check out some bigger rental properties.  On Spain-Holiday.com you can filter by the number of guests and there are stunning villas that sleep up to 16  - you get to split the cost and have a private pool!

6) Booking early is the best way to guarantee low prices and ideally 11 months before you want to travel is the cheapest.  Alternatively, wait until 3 days before you want to go away to make the most of the last minute deals.  Both have advantages of course but planning early gives you more chance to save and pay things off slowly.


7) Before you go away look for discounted entry tickets for local attractions, whether there are any festivals on, free days to visit things or cards that offer entry to multiple places.      

We love to travel and try and cut down costs so that we can go away more often.  Do you have any great budget tips to share?

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Saturday, 21 January 2017

A Letter to my Pregnant Self

Dear Me, 6 years ago,

You will be fine.

Everything is about to change, and you won't really appreciate just how much until it does.  People have tried to tell you, but you are so focused on pregnancy and the birth that anything beyond seems too far off still.  You may not know what to do at times, but that is fine, parenthood is about learning and all those people doling out advice had to learn once upon a time too.

It is all going to matter so incredibly much, and then suddenly it isn't, but the things that will be important to you are important.  You will become obsessed with breastfeeding, the contents of your baby's nappy, first foods, the average crawling age and what brand of babywipes to buy.  You will chat for hours about these things without getting even a little bit bored because that is your everyday.  You will find friends who find these things just as fascinating, who can debate baby led weaning vs puree all afternoon over a cup of luke warm tea.  And then one day none of it will matter again, you will move on and find it strange how you were ever so fascinated.  Parenthood goes in cycles and this baby stage that you are about to dive headfirst into is so incredibly intense but so short too.

Make the most of it, as much as you can of course.  You don't have to appreciate every moment, nobody ever will, but try to stop sometimes and sniff his little head.  When he falls asleep, watch his chest rise and fall and think about how you feel.  When you feed him lying down in your bed, take the time to appreciate how well he seems to slot in, how your body curves around him so naturally.  When he sleeps, and the house is silent, drink your freshly made cup of tea and just sit.  It won't always be this hard, it won't always be this easy.


The best piece of advice I can give you is not to worry so much about 'the book'.  You will try and do everything 'right', but your baby is unique.  You will learn over time to parent your child not 'a child', accept that he will be faster and slower than average, that he will sleep through when he is ready, he will drink until he is full and he will eventually crawl and walk.  Stop and listen to him, listen to yourself and do what feels natural, chances are it is the right thing.

Some people will tell you that there are things you can't do once you have a child - it isn't true.  It might not be as easy, but you are going to be the Mum, you get to make the rules.  If you want to go out for dinner late then take a pram for him to sleep in.  If you want to climb a mountain then get a good sling to wear him on your back.  If you want to travel and see the world then you can, and you get to see it through a child's eyes too, it will be magical.  Don't let having children hold you back from achieving what you want, but equally know that being a Mummy is more than enough.  Don't judge yourself against others, just be the best version of you that you can be.

You may wonder what the future holds but I am not going to give anything away.  It will be full of surprises, it will challenge you, make you question yourself but ultimately you will end up richer -your heart and home will be overflowing with love and you will be happy.  Take each day as it comes, appreciate the small things, let your baby be little whilst you still can.  Take a deep breath, count your blessings and enjoy the adventures of parenthood.

Love from Me, now.

p.s Make sure you always check out baby events to find the best deals - nobody will warn you quite how satisfying saving money on the necessities is! Tesco have one on at the moment and there is still a week left to grab some savings.



Disclaimer : In association with Tesco




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Monday, 4 April 2016

Spring Style for Archie



Spring has arrived and we already enjoying building sandcastles on the beach, lunch in the garden, bare arms and the odd ice cream. It feels like there was a sudden shift from winter coats to leaving the house with just a cardigan but I am not complaining (nor am I expecting it to last without a few colder days thrown in the mix)

In honour of the wonderful sunshine I have started thinking about the boys' spring wardrobes and making wishlists. I have been browsing for Archie and seem to have found a bit of theme with white, black and yellow.  His wardrobe is pretty full of colour and these simple shades will go really well and maybe be a bit more grown up for my newly turned three year old.

Archie Spring Style




Archie is still living in his wellies so we need to get him some more suitable Spring footwear for the dryer says and I love these Clarks sneakers from Brantano as they are fun but still pretty Archie -proof (dark colours!). We only have a couple of these items already but I am hoping to slowly get a few more over the coming weeks (slowly so that the bloke doesn't notice of course). Lucky no.7 is my new favourite brand for Archie and so the t-shirt tóp left and the shark shorts are top of my list!

Have you started buying ready for Spring/summer? What have you seen that may accidentally fall into your shopping basket?
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